Marcus Hobson: Fun with Reading Lists!


ARTbop Literary Editor, contributor and book reviewer, Marcus Hobson confesses to being “highly book addicted” and shares the secrets of his visual reading records.

For the last six or seven years I have been keeping a list of all the books that I read. For the highly book addicted, like myself, this seems to be normal practice. Having got a list of all the titles, dates published and the number of pages, for those that like statistics as well as lists it is possible to say how many pages you read each year, how many recent publications and how many classics. Do you prefer novels from the sixties or the nineties? After keeping records like this for a number of years, you can then work out how many books you can read over the next thirty years. On that basis I should probably have stopped buying any more books years ago, but there is no chance that is going to happen.

After a couple of recent book fairs in Tauranga and a few book tokens gifts, I have developed a serious tbr pile. T.b.r. being the bookish abbreviation for To Be Read. What began as a simple pile on the bedside table then graduated to the floor around the bedside table and then warranted a whole bookshelf being moved into the bedroom, which is now itself full. My problem now, how to remember all the titles waiting to be read?

The simple solution was to create a visual picture. An imaginary bookshelf that contains all my current favourites. Having drawn lots of book shapes onto my blank page, all I need to do then is to fill in the titles. Those that get read get coloured in, so bringing the picture to life. These are better than my old lists, because they are both backward and forward looking. I have never been able to add my tbr titles to my reading list, as I am never sure they will get read this year. I used to do that years ago, but found I might abandon books for several months and not return to them until the following year. I like the chronology of seeing what I read before and after a particular title.

Having started with a tbr illustration, I then began to branch out into other illustrations. This year I am determined to write more stories of my own, but have been thinking that to give myself help and inspiration, I should read more short stories. I scoured all my bookshelves to find the titles of all the collections of short stories I own. That has provided me with another illustrated page. I made the book spines wider on this page because the titles of these collections are often longer..”The collected shorter stories of….” In the end I found more than thirty short story collections, which was quite a surprise. Book fairs are to blame, because it is easy to find old collections there for only a dollar or two. On my blank page I created three shelves and then mentally separated my titles into Contemporary, second half of the twentieth century and Older meaning early twentieth and nineteenth century. That helps me to decide which books to dip into depending on my mood.

Having got this idea for illustrated shelves of reading, I started to think of other categories. I could have a page of thrillers and I could probably fill another just with Scandinavian thrillers from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. I could certainly fill a page with all my different books of poetry. Because I have a few favourite writers, such as John Le Carre, Sebastian Faulks and Ian McEwan, I could probably fill a whole page with the works of just one novelist. I created a page of Le Carre’s novels and used the colour of the actual books as a guide for my colour scheme. I popped the year each titles was written on there too, which proved interesting to see that the writer has a roughly two or three year cycle to turn out each work.

For those with a poor memory, these little pages might be a great help when browsing in the library or the book fair. Have I read this title or not, is it lurking on my shelves at home or is this the one I need to complete the set?

All I have to do is to remember to take my notebook with me, or make sure I have photos of my lists on my mobile phone.

Marcus Hobson is the ARTbop Literary Editor, regular book reviewer, writer, and the Secretary of the Tauranga Writers group Marcus has been, and continues to be, lots of things. An aspiring author of both novels and reviews, he has always said he wants to be a writer and 40 years later is making that come true. He has in the past done such varied things as study ancient and mediaeval history at Uni in London, worked as an archaeologist, as an economist in central and southern Africa, and as truck driver in a quarry. About two years ago he relocated to the beautiful Bay from a finance job in Auckland. He is a lover of art, the written word and a full time fanatical book collector, with over 3,000 volumes on his shelves. He lives close to Katikati with his wife and sometimes their three daughters, two cats, a library and the odd chicken. Marcus is currently working on a “factional” work about World War One.

Marcus Hobson in the company of fellow writer Kinsa Hays at Creative Bay of Plenty

If you would like to contribute your original book reviews to ARTbop WORDS please forward them to for the attention of the Literary Editor Marcus Hobson. We prefer the work is emailed in docx format We appreciate one or two jpg images (not enormous ones as they become an uploading issue for ARTbop) 


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Don’t judge me

 Karanga Plaza, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland

Sunday 26 March 2pm

What really makes a woman Feel good? Where could you catch the Unnamed Rumpelstiltskin Blues? And when that medical specialist assures you there’s No need to worry, do you relax? Truly? These important questions will be addressed in the Karanga Plaza, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland on Sunday 26 March 2 – 4pm when the sextet Don’t judge me performs.

New Zealand poet and Don’t Judge Me sextet member John Adams

The band performs works by New Zealand poet John Adams.   Ranging through blues, social comment, lyrical pieces and misanthropic love songs, the music is produced by Hugh Clarkson in collaboration with John Adams. Vocalist Cath Townsend twists the top off these numbers while Hugh Clarkson and Patrick Davidson work guitar magic. Kay McCabe underwrites the enterprise with her double bass and Pete Harbidge’s cornet and harmonica moods enhance the ambience. John Adams associates with the cajon.

It’s music with words. Entertaining, poetic and fun.

MORE INFORMATION: Contact Don’t Judge Me at



 ‘Cult Cinema Club’, a cinematic night out screening cult, arthouse, indie, local, classic films at the newly re-furbished cinema at the Historic Village, every Friday fortnight, commencing from the 7th of April to the 29th of September.

Each event will commence at 5.30pm with alfresco dining options outside the cinema, along with a licensed bar and artisan candy bar. The films will commence at 7.30pm. 

Our launch is on the 7th of April and we will be screening the Coen Brothers classic, ‘The Big Lebowski’.

Here is the link to our opening night…..

and of course, for further details, here is our website……

Thank you kindly and hope to see you at the Cult Cinema Club soon!



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